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Comic Review: Aquaman #23.2

Written by: Laura Hong-Tuason, CC2K Comics Editor

DC Comics’ Villains Month may be over, but at CC2K we’re still in villains mode! Speaking for myself, I’m highly impervious to most of DC’s marketing ploys. When I heard about Villains Month, I gave out a huge sigh. I just wanted one good, uninterrupted story with no crossovers. Still, there was one villain my curiosity couldn’t pass up: Ocean Master.

Aquaman #23.2: Ocean Master
Writer: Tony Bedard
Penciller: Geraldo Borges


When readers were first introduced to Ocean Master (aka Orm, Aquaman’s half brother), I had greatly hoped there would be more to him than a devious, one-dimensional bad guy. Ever since the confrontation between Aquaman and Ocean Master at the end of “Throne of Atlantis”, which tragically ended with Ocean Master feeling betrayed by his own brother for choosing the surface-dwellers over him, I’ve often thought about what has been racing through Ocean Master’s head. I mean, I knew Aquaman felt like crap, but Ocean Master? Nothing but bitterness and vengeance seeking based on the very few scenes Geoff Johns has offered so far in last 10 issues.


Tony Bedard (with some help from Johns) fixes all that! He sates my need for a more complicated character. Aquaman #23.2 rewinds to the moment Atlantis is first attacked by missiles. Believing the attack came from the surface, Ocean Master commands his army to flood Boston, Gotham City, and Metropolis. As readers know, the attack was actually perpetrated by one of his own. And that’s the case Ocean Master’s human attorney plans to use in front of the courts to plead him not guilty. Sounds solid, right? Sure…


I don’t argue this case. It’s a good case, but it isn’t the most important part. The important part is how Ocean Master’s own attorney detests him, acting as his attorney only because of a court order. There’s obviously animosity on the surface, with many people seeing it as black and white. They think, Ocean Master is evil. He deserves to die and no case, not matter how sound will change that. End of story.


However, we know it’s not like that despite such a heated atmosphere. There ARE people who walk the gray line, like a prisoner guard who scolds the attorney and shows Ocean Master some sympathy. Thus when the prison is attacked and Ocean Master is able to roam free, Ocean Master’s kindness and integrity is put to the test twice. For the first, you think it will go one way, but it doesn’t. It doesn’t even go the opposite way of what you imagined. Instead, his course of action speaks to the complexity of his character. It shows he has set of values and worldviews, which are aptly justified in their own right, based off of where he came from.


The second test he faces isn’t as relevant, but provides additional insight into his motives. When it comes down to it, Ocean Master isn’t all that cruel. He is forced to be cruel because of his narrow views of the world and his great responsibility to his people. Because of his values, he must choose Atlantis over his brother, just as Aquaman must do with the sufrace. Ah, the tragedy of it all!

This special on Ocean Master is one I’d recommend to read in terms of Villains Month. There’s nothing in it I totally didn’t suspect, but it was good for what it provided: An affirmative statement on Ocean Master’s character.

4.0 out of 5.0